"Is ChatGPT Blocked in China?" - Insights from the Chinese Young Generation
ChatGPT, the popular AI model, has been recently blocked in China. This development has triggered discussions throughout the digital ecosystem. The shockwaves of this move have been felt by a wide range of users, from casual to professional. To delve into this topic, we've turned to the insights of the younger generation in China. We've interacted with three individuals - Gerrard, a medical student, Wren, an engineer at a tech company, and Zzb, a neuroscience Ph.D. student. Their thoughts and experiences weave a revealing narrative about this pivotal turn in China's interaction with AI.

Gerrard's Safety-First Approach

The first voice in this discussion belongs to Gerrard, who is in the middle of his preparations for the National Civil Servants Examination. For him, ChatGPT was always an interesting technological phenomenon, not a vital tool for his studies. He views ChatGPT and similar AI technologies as new forces whose impacts are still to be fully understood.
Gerrard acknowledges the dilemma that schools and corporations face - how to reconcile the utility of AI tools with the necessity of maintaining academic integrity and data privacy. From his perspective, the decision to block ChatGPT may be a preemptive measure to handle these blurred lines.
He proposes a future where international experts collaborate to develop universally acceptable regulations for AI. His belief is that understanding, not fear, will unlock the beneficial potentials of AI.
However, Gerrard doesn't see a significant role for generative AI tools like ChatGPT in his medical field. High-end AI technologies, yes, they are invaluable for testing and equipment development. However, given the individual and unique nature of patient samples and clinical case data, generative AI tools may not find much use.

Wren: The Techie's Perspective

Next up is Wren, whose professional life is deeply integrated with AI tools like ChatGPT. They aid her in creating code drafts, solving minor debugging issues, and navigating Linux commands.
Wren is aware of the data leakage risks associated with AI technologies. She acknowledges China's decision to block ChatGPT but also mentions her workaround - VPNs. She suggests that companies and schools should implement a protective layer to control data uploads and ensure information safety.

Zzb: The Academic's Viewpoint

Lastly, we hear from zzb, a neuroscience Ph.D. student, who considers ChatGPT as an indispensable aid. It assists him in various areas, from tackling unfamiliar assignments, coding, polishing articles, to acting as a conversational companion during his downtime.
Zzb's response to the blocking of ChatGPT and similar content-generating tools in China is of resigned acceptance, considering the country's unique censorship norms. However, he notes an emerging trend - the growth of domestic AI models, driven by numerous companies.
Despite this development, Zzb expresses concern that these new Chinese models, influenced by local conditions, might bypass ethical checks to cut costs. Interestingly, he mentions that the block doesn't significantly affect typical users, as many are well-versed with tools like VPNs. It might even help limit the misuse of AI models.

Through Gerrard, Wren, and Zzb's unique insights, we gain an in-depth understanding of the younger generation's reaction to the evolving technology landscape in China. These narratives provide us a fresh perspective on the interplay of AI, regulation, and user experience, offering a window into the significant moments of China's AI journey.

Yuxi Yuan's avatar
Yuxi Yuan
Marketing @ Chicago-based NGO | Northwestern Medill '22.